Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thanksgiving Week - Sunday

Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the  circumstances of economic injustice which makes philanthropy necessary - Martin Luther King, Jr.

The most excellent of alms is that of a man of small property, which he has earned by labor, and from which he gives as much as he is able - Muhammad

Thanksgiving into Christmas is a huge time of charitable giving. I admit to getting a bit jaded from every request in the mail, etc.  However, there are many folks who live in dire circumstances and do need help. The spirit of Christmas is in giving.

Thus we transition from Thanksgiving to Christmas and open our hearts to the season.

I'll give a Sunday "Amen" to this post.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Thanksgiving Week - Saturday

You are stuffed from Thursday's meal and Friday's leftovers 

Go take a walk

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving Week - Friday

Greed for ownership has taken such a hold of us that we seem possessed by wealth rather than to possess it - Pliny the Younger

Black Friday. Today officially kicks off the Christmas shopping season. Retailers and advertisers jam the message down our throats. The whole economy depends on the almighty credit card and where and how it is used.

Sales. Sales. Sales.

I admit I might venture to a store or two, watch the frenzy, stand in a line, use a coupon, and return home weary, but satisfied with my bag of loot.

I shall be grateful for the little things today - look for kids excited to visit Santa Claus, see friends and family bonding over a gift decision, treat myself to a fancy chocolate.

Step back and contemplate the month ahead. Fix a cup of cocoa, sit for a second, and breathe.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Week - Thursday

O Lord my God, I will give thanks to thee forever - Psalms 30:12

I am not a religious person, but I think it is good to give a general thanks for what we have.
On Thanksgiving Day, Ray and I shall head to Kevin's house where fourteen people shall gather, partake of a bountiful meal, enjoy each others' company, laugh, and cheer Cowboys football.

I hope the same for my blog friends. I wish you Thanksgiving good cheer, health, and happiness. I'm grateful for our writing universe.

Happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Week - Wednesday

Most People return small Favors, acknowledge middling ones, and repay great ones with Ingratitude -
Benjamin Franklin 1751

Old Ben knew that folks hate to eat humble pie. Indeed, it's easy to proclaim gratitude for generalities. I'm grateful for liberty, nature, and a blanket.  Depending on the situation, it's tougher to be grateful to someone, especially if you caused your own grief. Best to swallow the pride, say thanks, and move on.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thanksgiving Week - Tuesday

Got no check books, got no banks
Still I'd like to express my thanks -
I got the sun in the mornin'
and the moon at night

Irving Berlin -  1946

A song in the heart can sustain a mood. Try to be down when the Pharell song "Happy" kicks in. Not possible.  I am grateful for music. 

Whistle a happy tune today

Monday, November 24, 2014

Thanksgiving Week - Monday

Gratitude is the sign of noble souls - Aesop

I am not noble, but I am grateful for my life.

Health, hearth, and family.

Don't have to ask for more

Friday, November 21, 2014

Kimbell: Faces of Impressionism

 The Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, TX is a lovely museum that brings in superb exhibitions. Running through January 25, 2015, they are presenting Faces of Impressionism: Portraits from the Musee d'Orsay.
 Seventy paintings and sculptures are assembled demonstrating the related works of fellow artists. They often paid homage to each others works within their own paintings.
 From the 1850s to 1870s we see the evolution of impressionism. In the 1890s, painters like Cezanne go bolder with structure, Gauguin with his use of color.
Altogether, this exhibit is rich in feelings, colors, style, and a wealth of artistic history. It made for a delightful Sunday afternoon. (Oh, and brunch at Lucille's was a plus!)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Monday, November 17, 2014

Book Review: The Bone Clocks

I gave up on The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell.  I did not even skip to the last chapter and read it, and I was two thirds through the book. I flat out did not care.

I had concerns when I signed up for this at the library. I never read Cloud Atlas (supposedly genius book), but I had tried to watch that movie from Netflix and gave up on it. It was a confusing mess. Hmm. Do you see a pattern? However, movies from some books don't translate well, so I was willing to give the author the benefit of the doubt.

Oh well. I actually liked the first bit and was interested in the Holly Sykes character. I thought, "Okay, this is going to be interesting." Then we leaped to some weird shit (excuse the language) and I had a WTF feeling.

There's psychic phenomena, time jumpers, people who host others, some Constantine character - not sure if bad or good, and they "all have a part in this surreal, invisible war on the margins of the world."  (cover blurb)

The writing was fine - it was the whole jump around plot and weirdo factor.  Maybe I just wasn't smart enough to grasp the author's intent. I like challenges, but I did not accept The Bone Clocks mess.

Consider yourselves warned.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

More Philly Fall

 Last weekend was perfect. We arrived back in TX to a total winter blast. My Dad will be getting it this weekend too.  Anyway, this tree is in the neighbor's yard. The colors just popped in PA
 Ray and Dad at the Gwynedd Nature Preserve. Nice one mile walk and Ray saw a deer. We rounded a path in a wooded area and a doe surprised us
 Old working mill near my dad's house. We did not catch the tour on Sunday but we walked around it Monday and peered in the windows. Very cool
 Old Mill
Part of the water source - the Wissahicken Creek - part of the whole watershed

I promised a senior tale.  We sat at breakfast and I asked for words of wisdom. Before Dad could answer, Ray piped up, "Don't plant so much crap near the house."  Indeed - Dad has a jungle that is out of control. So for any new homeowners - whatever you have planned - take at least half of it away.

And there you go.............

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Movie Review Madness: Nightcrawler

Nightcrawler is creepy intense good.  Jake Gyllenhaal is not quite right when we meet him. He’s a thief who ultimately decides to start filming crime aftermath at night. He learns quickly and does beat Bill Paxton’s crew at their own game. With a police scanner he learns the codes and lingo and he’s there with a camera to film the blood and gore of the night. “If it bleeds, it leads”. Sure enough, the news producer (Rene Russo) starts buying his film and he works all the angles.  

Nightcrawler is a film about morals, scruples, and the length folks go to for a story. (Too far).  It’s scary good and makes you think about what you see on television. But it’s all about the ratings and Jake’s character knows he has a lot of power. This film is not for the feint of heart. Whether it’s a fire or traffic accident, Jake is there for the closeup. Does he eliminate the competition?  As I said, this movie is almost too close for comfort when it comes to what is right or wrong. Great acting and perhaps an Oscar nomination for Gyllenhaal.  Watch the evening news at your own peril. Yikes!


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Senior Tales

Here's my Dad. My brother, David, took the picture probably after yelling at Dad to stop raking the leaves. David was there to mow and mulch. Ultimately in December, a service comes to suck up the balance and haul them away. Trust me, it's a lot of leaves and you can't burn them anymore.

I can report that Dad's in pretty good shape. Slowing down a bit at 83, but keeps a clean house. Frankly he runs a darn good Bed and Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner/plus Snack place.

His clutter piles are arranged. There's plenty that should be discarded but it's not hoarder status. His fridge is filled with tons of deli cartons. His freezer is full of goodies given to him from family events. He has soups, Italian foods, etc. The man can't starve. The fridge looks like it's filled for a family of six at least.

He falls asleep at the drop of a hat and the TV is LOUD.  I told Ray that no matter what - make sure Dad is NOT grasping the remote.  His head drops and you find yourself trying to ease the remote from his hand like the Grinch easing the candy canes from the littlest Who kids in Whoville.  Ray did witness this event.

Had a super visit, and I'll report a few more goodies in another post this week. I'm catching up now - did grocery shop, laundry is churning, and of course I have shows DVR'd to watch.

Reality bites but I survived first day back at work. Life is far more fun with the senior! 

Love ya Dad

Friday, November 7, 2014

Philly Fall

 I am headed to my Dad's in PA for a long weekend - Friday thru Monday. Ray's going too - we got a super cheap airfare. It's good to check in with the senior. We've had lots of emails back and forth. Today he was cleaning the guest bedroom and putting flannel sheets on the bed. I told him we could do that, but no..........
 Yes, this house still has an old rotary dial phone. He doesn't want to remove it, because it would leave a weird spot on the wall and he does not want to have to paint the kitchen. (Makes sense)
Here's a picture from a few years ago - some remnants of leaves stuck in bushes. Not sure if we'll be raking or not. He actually does pay for a service in December, but it drives him crazy to not rake every weekend. I remember, as a kid, when we burned leaves in the street. The neighborhood was a hazy smoky mirage.

If you wonder what we're doing this weekend, most of the time we sit at the kitchen table and talk, and eat, and snack, and talk some more. So, have a good weekend, and I'll be back soon with at least one good senior tale.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Thoughts for Thursday

Since our Labor Day flood due to a kitchen sink hose burst, our house has been in upheaval. It is as if we moved without moving. As an update, all is right with the world. It took awhile but insurance came through and paid very decently for replacement of flooring and painting.

New floors went in last week, and the painters did their job on Monday. Everything looks fresh and shiny. Now, we are taking our time to get resituated. The bedroom was the first task and it's nice to not wander the house anymore looking for our clothes in random drawers.

I've been rearranging pictures. It's fun to hang favorites in different places than before - round a corner and it's like a new discovery awaits.

Slowly but surely, it's pulling together and feels like home again. My final task is my bookshelves. I shall tackle that soon. Is it time to clean out the piles of books?  i.e. send them to Half Price Books for others to discover my special authors. Or should I just restack as they were?  I have eight boxes of goodies to unload.

My guess is I'll do a bit of both. I'm pretty good at thinning the herd. (It does make room then for new books!)

The bad news Labor Day weekend has turned into a time of reflection on material goods, on the need to gather and create a nest, and a sense of what is important. I admit to whining quite a bit when it all seemed overwhelming. But I know I am fortunate in what I do have, and shall try to maintain this perspective.

and those are my Thursday thoughts.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Book Review: Some Luck by Jane Smiley

Jane Smiley’s Some Luck is part of a planned trilogy. Lots of good reading and writing to look forward to. She never disappoints.  The book begins in the 1920s as soldiers return home. Walter is a farmer in Iowa and we follow his struggles through the Depression and then on to success in the 1950s. Through the decades, Rosanna is at his side – cranking out kids and supporting Walter and their life. Frank is the handsome, willful oldest son. He’s brilliant and enigmatic. Joe, never bright, turns out to be a great farmer. Lillian, the shallow beauty, has her issues. The youngest of six, Claire, is truly her Dad’s daughter and when this book ends we have no idea of her potential. 

Personal and historical aspects of America merge seamlessly in this broad story of America and its growth. From the cover blurb – Some Luck delivers on everything we look for in a work of fiction. Cycles of birth and death, passions and betrayals, and characters we come to know inside and out, it is a tour de force. It’s a literary adventure that will span a century in America, an astonishing feat of storytelling by a beloved writer at the height of her powers.   Indeed, you can count on Jane Smiley to slowly play her cards and deliver full characters that we care about.  

p. 332  As if on cue, Walter turned from Andrea and looked at Rosanna, and they agreed in that instant; something had created itself from nothing – a dumpy old house had been filled, if only for that moment, with twenty-three different worlds, each one of them rich and mysterious.  

Some Luck starts a tad slow, but it builds. It’s a pleasant read about a family. Join in and celebrate births, mourn deaths, and worry about whether the farm will produce or not.  The book ends in 1952, and you’ll be wishing the next book was in the queue. What shall happen to the Langdon extended family?  No doubt, they’ll muddle along with some luck.  Join me in this trilogy.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Movie Review Madness: St. Vincent

St. Vincent is a predictable and yet heartwarming tale about the saints you don’t recognize immediately in your own neighborhood.  Maggie (a charming Melissa McCarthy) and her son Oliver (very cute Jaeden Lieberher) move next door to a foul mouthed drunk codger, Vincent (an irascible Bill Murray). She’s trying to start over through divorce. Oliver, a runt, has to endure the trials of being the new kid at St. Patrick’s school. He’s beat up, Vincent teaches him to fight. He needs some after school care. Vincent needs money, so agrees to sit. He takes the kid to the horse races, to a bar, and of course, teaches him some life lessons.  

We do see Vincent help a pregnant “lady of the night” who’s his friend (Naomi Watts with a Russian accent). We see him visit his wife who’s now in a home. She doesn’t recognize him, but his love shines through and he does her weekly laundry. He’ll do anything to keep her in the nice assisted living. Tough times can call for desperate measures, and we see Vincent at his worst too. He suffers a stroke, and Oliver stays close. They all work to get Vincent back on his feet. When the teacher priest (Chris O’Dowd) assigns a project – report on a saint you know – Oliver does research on his unsung hero.  

St. Vincent was an entertaining movie matinee. Plenty of chuckle lines, and a chance to sniffle too. Bill Murray is a loose cannon these days, and is great in this part. He can be snarky and yet caring. The young actor is winsome, tough, and holds his own. All in all, Vincent is right when he says , “You don’t know me.”  We really don’t know the true story of our neighbors and their lives, and often we should give folks more credit. St. Vincent doesn’t count as church, but maybe one rosary bead credit.